Difficult weekend in Austria

21.07.2016

Kevin traveled to Austria as a points leader in both PRO and Endurance classification but the weekend was nothing short of disastrous. At least he managed to keep his lead in PRO points standing.

Endurance start
Third round of Renault Sports Trophy took place at Red Bull Ring. It also marked the half-time for 2016 series. Previously Kevin had competed at Red Bull Ring only once, but he had some good memories from the place: during the 2014 ELMS round he was the fastest driver of the race in his class.

Kevin’s first racing weekend after two-month break started well. He was the fastest in first collective test (aka free practice) with another R-Ace car directly behind him in P2 and showed good speed during two another sessions as well. Even Renault Sport official press-release quoted the double points leader: „The first session went off really good as the team scored a double. The car handled well but I went out at the start of the second session while many improved at the end. In the last session I don’t know whether our rivals used new tyres or not, but we suffered a recurrent problem. Apart from that the car felt really good, and I think we’ll be better in qualifying than at Imola where we had a really difficult weekend.“

But came Saturday and qualification... It was obvious that car was lacking the speed and Kevin was struggling in the lower part of 15-car field. Towards the end of session he managed to put together some decent laps but the session was ultra-competitive – with Top 12 covered by 0.9 seconds! – and Kevin had to be content with P7.

Endurance race took place on Saturday afternoon and actually there is little to tell about it. Kevin kept his P7 at the start but got stuck behind car #15 driven by Tanart Sathienthirakul. Kevin could have been much faster over full lap but unfortunately #15 was faster down the straights and try as he might, overtaking was a far cry. At least he gained one position with several cars being penalized for track limits. Kevin remained on the track as long as possible to gain back some time and his team-mate Fredrik Blomstedt emerged from the pit-stop in P4. Initially it seemed he could threaten P3 but unfortunately it was not the case. So car #3 crossed the finish line in frustrating P4, even late 10-second-penalty (for track limits, of course) didn’t change anything.

Endurance race

Kevin was promoted to P6 at PRO race starting grid because of Roy Geerts getting a penalty. A few seconds after the start all hell broke loose behind Kevin with five cars hitting each other and barriers. Safety car was deployed but when it returned to the pits, Kevin was passed by three cars in succession and dropped to P10. Lack of straight-line speed was even more obvious than on Saturday and it was only Kevin’s strong determination and others’ bad luck which allowed him to take P7 at the chequered flag.

As Markkus Palttala/Fabian Schiller in car #9 won the endurance race, they also grabbed the overall lead in Endurance points standings. Kevin and Fredrik are P2 in the standings, ten points down.

In PROs Kevin kept his points lead but Pieter Schothorst took maximum 50 points (25 for winning PRO race and 25 for leading Endurance race at 30-minute mark) from Red Bull Ring and he is now the closest competitor to Kevin, only two points behind with Markkus Palttala in P3, further three points down.

Kevin: „For some technical reasons we lacked the straight-line speed and at Red Bull Ring with its long straights and only eight turns hampered us strongly. My car had a perfect set-up, I was very fast exiting the turns but others simply drove away on the straights. Team thought it had found how to improve the car and changed certain things for Sunday but unfortunately it didn’t help. Still I was very lucky on Sunday because I got a very strong hit from behind entering Turn 1 and it was a little miracle the car survived at all. But then, it is all motor racing. We have a lot of work to do now before the next meeting.“

Endurance points standings

PRO points standings

Kevin@Austria2016

 

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